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How to Compare Insulation

It’s About R-value


The basic way to compare different insulation materials is to measure how well they do their job. Designed to stop the transfer of heat, the more heat that a particular insulating material stops, the better it is.

Insulation’s ability to stop heat transfer is measured in R-value. The higher an insulation’s R-value, the better it is at stopping heat transfer.

The R-value Myth

If insulation is not installed properly, or it does not seal an area completely, heat can pass as if there was no insulation.

Moisture also affects some insulation and reduces its effective R-value. Moisture is present in most ceilings and walls.

The R-value rating of an insulation does not account for the reduction in R-value from poor installation, gaps and moisture.

Insulation Types

A wide variety of insulation materials are available for homes and buildings. Below is a comparison of some of the most common types of insulation.

Fibreglas Batts

The famous “pink” insulation


Solid foamboard

Solid sheets of polyurethane foam


Loose Cellulose Fill

Made from treated waste-paper


Spray Foam Insulation

Blown-in expanding foam insulation


Fibreglas Cellulose Foamboard Spray foam
R-value (1”) 3.0 – 3.8 3.5 – 3.7 4.0 7.0
Completely Seals (no gaps) No No No Yes

  1. Unaffected by moisture
No No No Yes




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